US: Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure

Mon Jul 06 07:30:00 CDT 2015

Actual Previous
level $90 $91

Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $90 for the month of June, essentially unchanged from the previous two months. The latest average is also consistent with the June averages in 2013 and 2014. Americans' reported spending had been rather stagnant from 2009-2012 on the heels of the global financial crisis. Beginning in late 2012, the metric began to rise and continued to do so into 2013. Since then, it has hovered around the $90 mark, compared with much lower averages near the $70 mark in 2009-2012.

Although this year's June average is no different from the June 2013 and 2014 averages, it remains well above the June figures Gallup recorded between 2009 and 2012. Spending each June has typically dipped slightly compared with May, making the $1 decline this year consistent with the average $3 decline each June from 2009 through 2014. Spending between June and July, however, has usually increased a little, so it could increase this month as well.

Self-reported consumer spending is a new behavioral economics measure based on the individual reports of a random sample of Americans. The focus is on consumer discretionary spending, including on basics such as gas purchases at the pump and more optional impulse purchases online or in stores. Excluded are routine spending, including the consumer's monthly bills, and big purchase items such as automobiles and housing.

By tracking consumers' reports of how much they spend on a daily basis, investors can monitor not only overall discretionary spending trends, but also the impact on Americans' spending patterns of everything from the day of the week to special events.

Gallup's self-reported Consumer Spending measure is a real-time indicator of Americans' discretionary spending. The behavioral characteristics of this new measure provide early and unique insights into how consumer spending is responding to various changes in the business environment.

Further, the spending measure provides estimates on a continuing basis, giving an early read on what the government eventually reports for retail sales roughly two weeks after the close of each month. Overall, Gallup's behavioral-based spending measure allows business and investment decisions to be based on essentially real-time consumer spending information.